After four years, Redknapp’s sacking by the club yesterday leaves Spurs at an important crossroads. The strange thing about the sacking is that it isn’t a clear cut one – the reasons behind it are self-evident, but at the same time, you have to feel that only our performance under a new manager next season will deliver the final verdict as to whether this proves to be the correct decision for the club. Redknapp had the best win percentage of any permanent Tottenham manager (49%), and stepping into his shoes will be a challenge for his eventual successor.
In truth, Harry was always going to struggle to recover from the damage the England manager speculation inflicted on his Spurs career. Turning down a contract extension from Levy in February, in the hope of being offered the national team job, may well have been one of the final nails in the coffin after the decline and surrender of third place. Redknapp’s all-too-frequent comments to the press also grated towards the end of his reign, veering from euphoric talking up of the team’s title chances to defeatist admissions that he didn’t think the team would make the top four. Redknapp is of the opinion that he would have been sacked even if the team had made it into the Champions League, but in reality if he’d held on to third, he’d probably still be in a job.
Levy probably also took a look at the squad before making the decision to sack Redknapp, and likely came to the conclusion that, outside the first team, there is a worrying lack of back-up. It may be one of the best first teams that Spurs have had for several years, but under Redknapp the squad depth has certainly suffered, to the extent that we now find ourselves in need of several new recruits over the course of the summer. Redknapp’s recent transfer policy, of signing older players with little resale value, has probably also been a factor – Spurs haven’t signed a player under the age of thirty for almost two years.
The timing of the sacking does leave Spurs most of the summer to bring in someone new, and for them to bring in a few much needed extra personnel. However, it has to be called into question why the decision was not made even sooner – Brendan Rodgers was being rumoured as a potential replacement a month or so ago, but will now be out of the running having moved to manage Liverpool next season. It’s hard to know what’s been going on behind the scenes – perhaps a new man has already been approached by Levy – but this might have put Spurs on the back foot a little.
At least now we also know the reasons behind the Vertonghen deal taking an age to be completed – hopefully, a change in manager will not lessen his desire to come to the club. Similarly, perhaps the much mooted permanent deal for Adebayor will materialise. More important is ensuring that players do not follow Redknapp out the door; Modric’s seemingly permanent desire to leave has been well documented, but it’s vital that a new man is in place before the media’s sensationalised prediction of a ‘mass exodus’ even begins to take root.
The contenders for the job are probably legion, and there probably isn’t an outstanding front runner. David Moyes, Roberto Martinez, Alan Pardew and Fabio Capello have all been touted as options, amongst many others, but it’s hard to see one manager who wouldn’t draw murmuring of initial discontent from some quarters. Still, it’s worth remembering that Redknapp wasn’t a universally popular decision on his appointment, and yet proved to be one of our most successful managers in the past 20 years. If nothing else, he’ll be a tough act to follow.
On Twitter: @AEFSpurs.